Wi-Fi Calling is expected to find wide deployment beyond the US over the course of 2015. Beside consumers, enterprises have a lot to benefit from the new communication access channel. In this article we summarise how enterprises should approach Wi-Fi Calling, compare native to application-based approaches, and provide practical advice on how to choose the right implementation for small, medium and large enterprises.
The size of your enterprise will most likely determine the type of Wi-Fi Calling approach that makes sense for you. For example, if you are just starting out, existing and battle-tested tools like Skype, WeChat, etc. will be more than sufficient. Once agreed as the default tool to be used by everyone (this is where size matters) such applications provide great functionality (voice/video call, messaging, presence, file transfer) and experience (robust and bandwidth-saving Codecs). For a very low investment small enterprises and start-ups can deploy application-based Wi-Fi Calling across all common Mobile Operating Systems.
It is a different story at the point where enterprises need to provide a managed / controlled communications experience. This could be, for example, because the enterprise grows that much, that deploying its own communications infrastructure (e.g. a PBX) and monitoring communications cost has a positive business case. Hereby two options (managed on-premise versus outsourced cloud infrastructure) become available. The tools that worked well for small enterprises, might now expose issues as manageability and financial integration become important. This is usually the case in medium-size enterprises.
With the introduction of the iPhone 6, enterprises can choose to have Wi-Fi calling usable via the native phone dialer. This is not new. Native Wi-Fi Calling has been a functionality long available in the US through various mobile and fixed network operators across various devices and modified versions of Mobile Operating Systems). The novelty is in the acknowledgement from a major device manufacturer that Wi-Fi Calling belongs into the Mobile Operating System, as an intrinsic part of the user experience.
Imagine, for example, a mobile operator that can offer native Wi-Fi Calling, with smooth handover between access networks and all enterprise functionality of a cloud-PBX. Such a proposition provides productivity gains that are hard to beat with any application-based approach. So user experience is a critical factor to consider because of its positive business case impact.
There is however a further factor that will ultimately decide whether an enterprise should choose the native Wi-Fi Calling approach versus the application-based one, namely the depth of integration required with existing enterprise processes. This is the case with large enterprises. Examples of such integration include the ability to place video calls from a mobile into an enterprise-premises video conferencing system, and complying to regulatory requirements such a call recording for financial institutions. Here a configurable application-based Wi-Fi Calling approach makes far more sense than native Wi-Fi Calling.
The four factors listed above, form a solid decision guide for choosing the right Wi-Fi Calling deployment for your enterprise. Admittedly, there is no solution that fits all requirements. There is however an optimal solution for your enterprise size, your budget, the productivity gains you aim to achieve, and the context within which you operate. We hope the examples we listed above will help you find it.
Neos Chronos have published an excerpt of relevant research performed last year in the Wi-Fi Calling market overview article. For more information on how our advisory services could help you, please contact us to arrange an introductory meeting.